What Colorado’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ order means for parishes

Over the past few weeks, city, county, and state officials have issued public health orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. On Thursday, March 26, a state-wide Stay-at-Home order went into effect which mandates the people of Colorado to stay at home except for critical activities. This order has now been extended through April 26. 

Here are three things to know about how all the regulations have impacted our parishes.

1. Public Masses have been suspended through at least April 30.  

Due to the statewide stay-at-home order and other similar city orders, the archdiocese has had to extend the suspension of public Masses through April 30.  

This unfortunately includes Palm Sunday, the Triduum and Easter Sunday.  

All Holy Week Masses will still be celebrated privately at the parishes, and many will be live-streamed to the faithfulHoly Week Masses with Archbishop Aquila will be live-streamed as well.  

The Rites of Christian Initiation have been moved to the Pentecost Vigil on May 30.  

NOTE: Archbishop Aquila has dispensed the Christian faithful in the Archdiocese of Denver from the obligation to participate in the Sunday Eucharist until it is deemed safe for large gatherings of the faithful to congregate.  

2. Churches are still open in a limited capacity.  

The public health orders have not forced parishes to completely close or lock their doors.  

At a pastor’s discretion, a minimal staff is still at each parish to ensure essential services and operations continue.  

Parishes are still able to live-stream or record Masses, and offer some sacraments like confession, baptism and marriage, following strict social-distancing and limited-group requirements. (No more than 10 people together).  

Parish-run ministries that serve their communities (food banks, clothing distribution, emergency assistance) are still encouraged to continue, following the guidelines for social distancing, gatherings, etc.   

NOTE: Check with your parish to see how they are operating during this time.  

3. Your parish still needs your support. 

With no weekly collections, parishes are experiencing a sharp decline in donations. 

In the same way people are rallying to support their favorite local restaurant or small business to help them get through this pandemic, we need to support our parishes to make sure they can continue to operate now and for many years to come!  

Please consider supporting your parish with a recurring online donation 

If you are healthy and not in a high-risk groupconsider calling your parish to see if they have any volunteer needs.  

PRAYOur priests, deacons and parish staffs are always in need of your prayers. 

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash